Sunday, March 25, 2012

My Kung Fu is Stronger

This past Friday evening, I earned the single most insane Achievement that I have ever earned. At 9:11 pm eastern time, I earned "My Kung Fu is Stronger" in Mortal Kombat (2011), which is awarded for mastering all twenty seven kombatants in the core game (DLC kombatants do not count).

In order to master a kombatant, you need to do the following:

- Win 100 matches
- Perform 100 Fatalities
- Successfully land 150 X-Ray moves
- Spill 10,000 pints of blood
- Play with that kombatant for 24 hours, real time

This is a huge time commitment and takes a lot of grinding simply for one kombatant let alone twenty seven, and suffice it to say I've been working on this for about eleven months now and actively pursuing it for a little over a year.

Thankfully, most everything you do counts towards mastery, so playing through Story Mode, the Challenge Tower, online matches, Test Your Luck, and a ridiculous amount of Arcade Ladder was the way to go.

Like most Achievements, there are ways to expedite things, thankfully. You can play a lot of Arcade Ladder on any difficulty to rack up wins, Fatalities, and blood spilt, and you can make things go a bit faster by changing the settings to one round instead of the standard two round matches. Obviously playing on Beginner would have been the fastest, but I wanted a reasonably fun challenge so I always played on Medium or Hard.

When it comes time to milk X-Rays, you can use a second Controller and play a local two round Tag Match with Kombat Kode 466-466, granting infinite Super Metre; simply spam away for a bit and you'll get your 150 X-Rays.

The longest part of the process is the 24 hour time requirement per kombatant, and the best way to milk this is to simply go into Tag Team practice and walk away. The time spent in Practice Mode counts, so provided you're willing to leave your console on for a long time, this'll do it.

So of course, the question is since this took so much time and grinding, why did I do it? Well, there are a few reasons. The first is a lot of people go for one crazy Achievement at least once in their life (the "Seriously" Achievements from the Gears of War franchise is a great example of this), and for a time I was seriously considering going for "Hard to the Core" in Dead Space 2, but the simple truth is I don't have the time for a play session of the length that that Achievement would require. The fact that I could do "My Kung Fu is Stronger" over time and in short bursts made it a natural crazy-Achievement choice.

The second and most important reason is that I truly love the game, my love for the franchise has been rekindled with this title, and I really wanted to try my hand at all the kombatants simply for nostalgia's sake. Though this was some of the most insane grinding I've ever done, I really enjoyed myself, and it's a testament to NetherRealm Studios that I never got overly bored while pursuing this Achievement.

So, now I can give Mortal Kombat (2011) a break for a bit, but I love the game so much that I'm certainly going to come back to it, at least to give the Story Mode one more whirl. I can't see myself going for an Achievement like this with any other game again, but I can proudly say I earned this one and had a blast doing it.

The Walking Dead Season 2 Review

Not only was The Walking Dead so successful, but the show that was supposed to be a single season and a simple six episodes was not only renewed but doubled in length.

Season 2 begins right where the original season left off, with the group on the road trying to find a safe haven to head to. Now, for a dramatic series like The Walking Dead, story and plot is everything so I don't want to go into too many details, however the tension between Rick (Andrew Lincoln), Shane (Jon Bernthal), and Lori (Sarah Wayne Callies) is still present and other characters get far better developed while some others kind of take a back seat. Suffice it to say that the group does come across a new safe haven in a rather unfortunate way, a remote farm stead, and the bulk of the thirteen episodes occur here. This also allows some much needed new characters to be added to the mix.

Getting right to the meat of things, the second season of The Walking Dead is a mixed bag. It starts off somewhat middle-ground and then gets very weak, picks up, really drops off, and then finishes with a bang. Seriously, the final three episodes of the season are the strongest the show has seen since the series premiere itself, but getting there was a bit frustrating. The problem was really inconsistent writing, and while it's clear they're trying to better develop some characters, it often doesn't work out so well. So many of the survivors make a ridiculous amount of stupid decisions it has you wondering how they could possibly have survived for so long in the first place. I also found it funny how several episodes were so character focused, in both good and bad ways, that they'd occasionally have to throw in a random zombie just to remind us that the series is actually about a zombie apocalypse.

Overall the season wasn't horrible, but there were definitely several points that stretched my patience and in many instances, really, a whole lot of nothing happened. In truth, the entire season could have been compressed into about six or so episodes, the first half could certainly have been covered in about three episodes.

Thankfully though, as I mentioned, it ends on a high note with some surprising deaths, character developments, and a more promising nod back to the comics. I'm quite excited now for season 3 to see where exactly the show goes and to see how the group dynamics will further change and evolve, because the show we started with at the beginning of the season is quite different than what we end with.

As a buddy of mine said: "&$*@'s about to get real."

BioShock Infinite "Heavy Hitters Part 3: Boys of Silence" ViDoc

Irrational Games has released their third ViDoc in their "Heavy Hitters" series for BioShock Infinite. This one focuses on the Boys of Silence, enemies that somewhat function like walking security cameras.

You can check the video out here or below.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Mortal Kombat (PlayStation Vita) Gameplay Trailer

The official gameplay trailer for Mortal Kombat (PlayStation Vita) is now available and you can check it out here or below.

We get to see some cool exclusive content in this trailer, such as a few new Challenges as well as some of the alternate costumes. Not sure if Kabal was wearing a new alternate or if his trench coat has been cut due to technical limitations.

Overall though I thought the gameplay looked very slick and the graphics are quite solid. Like the PlayStation 3 version of the game, the colours look a little washed out to me but hopefully that'll be adjustable. I wasn't impressed with what appears to be the Flesh Pits stage though; and hopefully the final version of that stage will retain further detail as seen in the console versions.

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim 1.5 Title Update Detailed

The 1.5 Title Update for The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is now available in a beta version on Steam and will be released in full soon for Xbox 360, Games for Windows, and PlayStation 3.

In addition to the usual bug fixes, the patch will also add some cool new features. How cool are they? Apparently cool enough that Bethesda has created a trailer about it. A trailer. For a patch. And it's not premium DLC.

You can check out the trailer here or below, and you can read the full list of upcoming changes right here.

Now I'm sad for the tavern-goers of Whiterun. I liked them. They drank and sang things.

BioShock Infinite "Heavy Hitters Part 2: Handyman" ViDoc

The second video in Irrational Games "Heavy Hitters" series is now out, detailing the Handyman, a mechanical enemy you'll be challenged against in BioShock Infinite.

You can check out the video here or below.


Saturday, March 10, 2012

Halo 4 "Making Halo 4: First Look" ViDoc

The first ViDoc for Halo 4 was released as well earlier this week. Entitled "Making Halo 4: First Look," it showcases the first real gameplay footage from the game, primarily Multiplayer.

We clearly get to see John-117 as well as the new Battle Rifle, the Warthog, and the Spartan IV's from the Multiplayer portion of the game.

You can give it a watch here or below.

You can also check out three sexy screenshots from the game right here.

Mass Effect 3 "The War Begins" Trailer

Mass Effect 3 is out now and garnering critical acclaim, and EA and BioWare have released a brand new trailer entitled "The War Beings."

You can check it out and see some old friends here or below.

Update: WTF?

BioShock Infinite "Heavy Hitters Part 1: Motorized Patriot" ViDoc

A new ViDoc series has been release for BioShock Infinite in which Ken Levine and co discuss some of the more powerful enemies players will face in the game.

Entitled "Heavy Hitters," the first part of the series focuses on the enemy known as the Motorized Patriot, and the ViDoc can be viewed here or below:

Saturday, March 03, 2012

Mass Effect: Deception Review

I've noticed a growing trend lately where game-related novels have been on the slide in terms of quality and more importantly, getting the feel of their respective parent universe right. This is a great shame as game related novels used to really enhance a game's back story and would provide the reader with so much more depth and insight into their beloved virtual world.

The Halo franchise is a strong example of this. The novels originally expanded things nicely and were so well done that their contents actually began working their way into the game's themselves, confirming the novels as canon to the universe. Lately however, the Halo novels have been far less inspirational. I personally have no issue with the Forerunner Saga though many disagree with me, and then there's the abomination entitled Halo: Glasslands which is so off the mark that it insults what Halo is.

Sadly, I must announce that the Mass Effect franchise is on the same path with the embarasing release of Mass Effect: Deception.

Set after Mass Effect 2 but before Mass Effect 3, Mass Effect: Deception brings Gillian Grayson back into the tale as a young adult bent on revenge for the death of her father in the last novel. Returning from her exile with the Quarians, Gillian learns of her father's death at the hands of Cerberus and vows to kill the Illusive Man. Her minder and guardian who followed her into exile, Hendel, has no choice but to accompany her back into Citadel space.

Her journey takes her to the Citadel itself where she re-unites with Kahlee Sanders and meets her boyfriend and partner, the legendary David Anderson, both of whom are trying to spur the Citadel Council to action against the looming Reaper threat. The joyous reunion takes a backseat when Gillian throws a temper tantrum and storms off to rashly pursue her goal, forcing the others to search for her.

Despite the fact that the novel only takes place a few years after we last saw Gillian, she's magically 18 years old somehow. She was also a youth plagued by autism, however there's no mention of this what-so-ever completely changing the nature of her character from someone with a serious condition to just your typical hotheaded teenager.

That's a very fundamental change, but the mistakes made by Mass Effect: Deception don't stop with novel-only details. Apparently the Quarians are no longer concerned with sterlization anymore, as people can walk among their ships without any kind of decontamination or precautions. They also have a warehouse on Omega. The Batarians have a presence on the Citadel again and even let Humans on their homeworld, completely removing the strong hostility between species! Biotics are now also classified by Level, instead of their implants being recognized by that.

Mess ups like this are just sloppy and show a complete disregard for everything that has come before in the franchise's near five year history. The thing is, I don't know if the author, William C. Dietz is to blame or if BioWare or the publisher, Del Ray, should be held accountable themselves, since they obviously had to sign off on this work.

Let's put it this way, Mass Effect: Deception is so poorly done and so off the mark for what's expected of the Mass Effect franchise that both BioWare and Del Ray have issued a formal apology and have promised to make a host of corrections and revisions for subsequent releases of the novel (you can read this apology here). How often does that happen?

The shame of that however is that this isn't software, it's a paperback novel, so you can't exactly release a patch. This means that for those of us who have already wasted our money on this novel, we can only enjoy a corrected version if we buy it again. And with that, I'll pass, thank you. It's not right that I should have to re-spend simply to fix their mistakes, and you shouldn't either.

Mass Effect: Deception is a embarrassment of inconsistency and juvenile story telling. It doesn't feel like Mass Effect and the characters and even many of the settings in the book feel completely off from those we know and love. If you're still interested in the novel, I strongly recommend you skip buying it and simply read the summary here.

We can also only hope that Mass Effect: Deception will ultimately not be considered canon.

Mass Effect 3 Launch Trailer and Live Action Trailer

The spectacular launch trailer for Mass Effect 3 can be viewed here or below. I shouldn't have to say anymore than that.

EA has also released a live action trailer simply entitled "Fight" which you can view here or below.

Mass Effect 3 launches everywhere this coming Tuesday. Very exciting!

BioShock Infinite Release Date Announced

2K Games has officially unveiled the release date for BioShock Infinite. The game will be available on Xbox 360, PC, and PlayStation 3 on October 16, 2012.

So that's about six and a half months to wait for Ken Levine's next masterpiece. Perhaps I'll take a little vacation time around that point...

You can check out the official announcement here.